Nike Peach Jam Saturday Recap: Jayson Tatum, DeAndre Ayton and Briscoe vs. Trier

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The most anticipated matchup of the day on Saturday featured two of the best guards in the country: Allonzo Trier and Isaiah Briscoe.

And no matter how you slice it, Trier won the battle. He finished with 42 points on the afternoon, hitting five threes and getting to the free throws line 20 times as Athletes First knocked off the N.J. Playaz in a thrilling and fun overtime game. Briscoe played well, notching 19 points and three assists as he sat out long stretches of the first half in an effort to save his legs for the night game.

There is a significance here, as both players are being pursued heavily by Arizona and just so happen to occupy essentially the same position. That means the Wildcats will likely end up with whoever they decide is the better of the two, so it should come as no surprise that Sean Miller was sitting front and center for this one.

There is one important stat to keep in mind before thinking that Trier’s performance locks him into a scholarship to Arizona: he was 10-for-30 from the floor and also shot those 20 free throws while adding just a single assist. Some of that is a result of the team that he plays on in the EYBL — he HAS to take a lot of shots if they are going to be competitive — but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a scorer that needs the ball in his hands.

Briscoe needs the ball as well, but he’s a more well-rounded lead guard. He’s an excellent passer, to the point that some scouts believe his true position is as a point guard at the college level. He is strong with the ball and capable of making a play in the post. He’s not the best athlete in the country, but he’s got long arms and massive hands. Think Wichita State’s Ron Baker.

The thing to remember is this: Arizona already has a commitment from Justin Simon, another five-star combo-guard, in the Class of 2015 and has point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright joining the program this season. Regardless of who — if either — they end up with, the Wildcats will have plenty of guard play in the future.

Braxton Beverly stands out in matchup with Jalen Brunson: If you follow recruiting, you’ve heard the name Jalen Brunson before. He’s a five-star point guard, arguably the best at his position in the Class of 2015. You’ve probably never heard of Braxton Beverly before, but the Class of 2016 point guard from Hazard, Ky., was the best lead guard on the floor when his Travelers teams squared off with the Mac Irvin Fire on Saturday.

Beverly finished with 14 points and eight assists, which is impressive even before I put those numbers into context for you. The Mac Irvin Fire is one of the best AAU programs in the country and spent the entire second half using their myriad of athletes in an all out, full court press. Beverly never rattled, even when he rolled an ankle midway through the half. And to make things even more impressive, he closed out the win with three consecutive tough drives through the lane. The 5-foot-11 point guard lists offers from Western Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Samford, Cleveland State and Marshall, but he’s had some high-majors poking around of late. Saturday’s performance will likely bring more.

Give me Jayson Tatum over Malik Monk: I saw Malik Monk put on a showstopping performance on Friday night at Peach Jam playing 17s. On Saturday, I watched Jayson Tatum do the same, except he was doing it against overmatched 16-year olds in a game his team lost. Regardless, I think I would still take Tatum over Monk if forced to pick. Tatum is a 6-foot-8 forward with length that is as smooth as they come on the perimeter. He got to the rim whenever he wanted to this week, and while I have concerns about his strength and his overall athleticism, the bottom-line is that this kid can flat out play.

It’s also worth noting here that Monk had eight points and 12 points while shooting a combined 6-for-31 in the two games surrounding his 40-point outburst. On Saturday, he went 3-for-20 from the floor and 0-for-9 from three with six turnovers.

First impressions on DeAndre Ayton: I got my first look at DeAndre Ayton, one of the best prospects in the Class of 2017, on Saturday afternoon in a consolation game in the EYBL’s 16U division. Ayton has an the ideal frame and physical gifts for a big man prospect and the kind of coordination that you rarely see out of a kid that size and age. But he has got a long, long way to go in his development. He doesn’t have the confidence in his post game to demand the ball when he gets position, he not strong enough to be the presence on the glass that he should be and the native Bahamian still looks like he is learning the game. That said … those physical gifts are really tantalizing, and his shooting stroke actually looked pretty decent.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.